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Big Oil and “Homeland Security”

Posted by msrb on June 8, 2010

When Enough of an Incompetent President is Enough!

Obama is wasting hundreds of billions of dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in part to protect the Big Oil, yet he is losing the war  to Big Oil at home

Executive Branch Lacks the Worst Case Scenario Toolkit to Protect American People

By Ralph Nader [Nader.Org]

When the Executive Branch does not have worst case scenario planning for each kind of energy source—oil, gas, coal, nuclear, wind, solar and efficiency—the people are not protected.

Enter the 24/7 oil gusher-leak by BP and Transocean – the rig operator – and the impotence of the federal government to do anything but wait and see if BP can find ways to close off the biggest and growing oil leak in American history. Where is the emergency planning or industry knowhow?

Of course, we all saw Barack Obama’s first full press conference in ten months where he said, “In case you were wondering who’s responsible? I take responsibility. It is my job to make sure everything is done to shut this down…The federal government is fully engaged, and I’m fully engaged. Personally, I’m briefed every day. And I probably had more meetings on this issue than just about any issue since we did our Afghan review.”

Sure, so he’s being kept informed. Those are not the words of leadership five weeks after the preventable blowout on the Deepwater Horizon 40 miles off the Louisiana coast. His problem is how long it took for the White House to see this as a national disaster not just a corporate disaster for BP to contain.

That default was not just failing to determine the size of the spill (over ten times greater than BP originally estimated) or the farcical non-regulation, under Republicans and Democrats, by the Minerals Management Service of the Interior Department. It was a failure to realize that our government has no capability, no technology to take control of such disasters or even to find out whether solutions exist elsewhere in the oil and geologic industries. It’s like a spreading fire where the perpetrator of the fire has the primary responsibility to put the fire out because there Is no properly equipped public fire department.

He wouldn’t know the difference!

James Carville, an Obama loyalist and defender, called out his champion from new Orleans, where he now lives, and told him: “Man, you got to get down here and take control of this!” With what? Obama has a 16 month long record of turning his back on advice from the Cajuns of Louisiana to environmental groups in Washington, DC. He shook off warnings about the pathetic federal regulators, so called, cushy with the oil industry. During his campaigns, he allowed McCain’s “drill, baby, drill” to turn him more overtly toward favoring offshore drilling, instead of turning onto offshore windpower.

As the multi-directional and multi-depth oil swarm keeps encircling the Gulf of Mexico, strangling the livelihood of its people, the life of its flora and fauna, with its implacably deadly effect, Obama and his supposedly street smart advisors, led by Rahm Emanuel, started out with a political blunder. Presidential specialist, Professor Paul Light at New York University put his finger on it when he said: “The White House made a deliberate political calculation to stand off…to sort of distance themselves from BP, and they’ve been hammered on that.”

The White House Action Comedy: A Roomful of Voyeurs

We thought we voted in a hands-on President and all we got was a roomful of voyeurs. [U.S. President Barack Obama (C) listens during a briefing about the situation along the Gulf Coast following the BP oil spill, at the Coast Guard Venice Center, in Venice, Louisiana, in this White House handout photo taken on May 2, 2010 and released on June 7, 2010.]

Early on, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told him that the federal government does not possess superior technology to BP. And BP CEO Tony Hayward admitted that BP was not prepared for such a blowout. He said “What is undoubtedly true is that we did not have the tools you would want in your tool kit.” Gates really meant that Uncle Sam had nothing superior to nothing or, in less charitable words, was completely out to lunch with the chronic deregulators who still infect our national government.

Obama’s cool is turning cold. He is not reacting fast enough to the public rage that is building up and over-riding his vacuous statements about taking responsibility and being briefed daily. Much of this public rage, incidentally, is coming from the southern Gulf rim, whose elected politicians consistently opposed any regulation of their campaign contributing oil companies in order to avert just these kinds of disasters. Only Florida’s Congressional delegation said—stay out of Florida’s waters.

Politico reported that “Obama skipped the memorial service for the 11 workers killed on the rig earlier this week, instead flying to California, where he collected $1.7 million for Democrats and toured a solar panel plant. On the day that the significant clots of oil started appearing on the Louisiana coast, Obama was sitting down for an interview to talk hoops with TNT’s Marv Albert.”

He must move to properly sequester all the assets of BP and Transocean to fully pay for their damage, thus assuring Americans that BP will not be able to concoct another Exxon/Valdez escape strategy. He must scour the world of knowledge and experience regarding capping underseas oil blowouts, and not just wait week after week for BP to come up with something.

Nobody says that being president is an easy job, even in the best of times. But a President, who can go all out spending hundreds of billions of dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan in ways that bleed the taxpayers and breed more anti-American fighters, in part to protect Big Oil in the Middle East, better come back home and stop Big Oil’s war here in the Gulf of Mexico. That’s how he’d better start defining “homeland security.” (See for more on BP.)

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Redoubt Fallout for Chevron

Posted by msrb on April 8, 2009

The mighty Chevron Corp bites the volcanic dust

The mighty Chevron Corp has been forced to suspend production from its Cook Inlet oil operations in Alaska, following an indefinite shutdown at its storage facility, thanks to Mt Redoubt Volcano’s eruptions.

Chevron operates about a dozen offshore platforms in Cook Inlet producing up to 10,000 bpd. However, the company suspended on Sunday all production after Redoubt’s 20th explosion since March 22.

The explosion interrupted operations at the Drift River Oil Terminal  on the western shore of Cook Inlet.

“The terminal had been closed since March 22, when Redoubt began erupting. Chevron, which operates the offshore Granite Point, Trading Bay and McArthur River oil fields, has since struggled with storage space. The company cut production at the mature fields in response to the volcano problems, and a week ago shut in two of its platforms.” Reuters reported.

“Chevron is considering ways to restart production without using Drift River, spokeswoman Roxanne Sinz said. ‘At this point, we’re taking a look at some options,’ she said.
The Drift River terminal lies at the mouth of a river that flows from the volcano. The Drift River valley is subject to lahars — mudslides and floods created when volcanic explosions melt the snow and ice on the 10,197-foot peak.”

The storage tankers pose a contamination risk to the cook inlet and surrounding areas.  The terminal briefly reopened over the weekend to allow a tanker to load about a half of the 150,000 barrels of crude oil that had remained stranded since Redoubt’s resumption of activity in March. However, the officials said they had no plan to do anything else right now.

“The risk to people at this point outweighs the benefit of any additional effort,” the U.S. Coast Guard said.

Rod Ficken, vice president of Cook Inlet Pipe Line, which is owned by Chevron and Pacific Energy Resources, said: “We don’t have an idea exactly what will happen. We will wait for the volcano to rest,” Ficken said.

Explosions at Redoubt volcano, about 170km southwest of Anchorage, have ejected 15-20km ash clouds into the air, leaving a legacy of volcanic particles and ash in the surrounding areas and forcing numerous flight cancellations and a temporary shutdown of the main Anchorage airport.

Lahars Near the Drift River Oil Terminal

Besides volcanic ash, the eruption of Alaska’s Mount Redoubt posed another hazard in early April 2009. The volcano’s activity sent lahars—muddy volcanic avalanches—through Drift River Valley, according to the Alaska Volcano Observatory. Because an oil storage facility, the Drift River Oil Terminal, is located in the river valley, a catastrophic lahar could have caused an oil spill.

On April 4, 2009, the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 satellite captured this image of the Drift River Valley where it connects with Cook Inlet. Lahars have stained the river valley a deep muddy brown. Water channels form branching patterns just west of the Cook Inlet shore, and the dark brown color of each water channel contrasts sharply with the nearby snow. The Drift River Oil Terminal resides in this network of channels, and part of the facility appears as an off-white rectangle in a landscape of meandering mudflows. The same day that ALI acquired this image, the Alaska Volcano Observatory reported that a lahar had developed in the Drift River Valley, as indicated by seismometer readings. Lahars had also been recorded in the Drift River Valley during the previous weeks.

On April 6, 2009, the tanker Seabulk Arctic carried 3.7 million gallons of crude oil away from the Drift River Oil Terminal, reducing the risk of a massive oil spill. (On March 22, 2009, at the beginning of Mount Redoubt’s period of unrest, the facility contained 6.2 million gallons of oil.) A lahar struck the area on March 23, but a dike built in 1990 kept the facility’s oil tanks dry.   NASA image created by Jesse Allen, using EO-1 ALI data provided courtesy of the NASA EO-1 Team. Caption by Michon Scott. Instrument:   EO-1 – ALI. Image acquired April 4, 2009.

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